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The Diaspora

July 12, 2010

The Diaspora

Once the herd was scattered and the tribe took to the wind, they splintered across the land. Lone ships flew to all manner of cities, and they weren’t the only newcomers that came to stay to those ports of call. Other tribes were there, with their own herds and villages destroyed. The migrant ships were grounded in rows on the field, tucked in a disparate pattern, where the shadow of one’s wing was cast over the craft next to it, or under it as it were. Such invasions became de facto neighborhoods, with the camaraderie of necessity knitting the tribes together, making light of old animosities between them.

There was no clear leader, no structure or hierarchy, just the cooperation of sudden companions in hardship. Communities have risen from less, after all. The familiarity of the ships drew more newcomers as they flew aimlessly after being swept up by the roving gangs, often separated from their kinsmen. They would be welcomed, pointed out to a row, and they became a new thread in the uneven tapestry.

These spontaneous communities, spurned by the mercenary raids, were received by the cities hosting them with reservation and curiosity. The urbane saw the tribesmen as quaint reminders of the lifestyle of their forefathers, backwards and irrelevant. Their numbers, their ships, and sudden poverty, made them a potential threat as well. And yet, those new villages offered skilled navigators, mechanics, as well as whatever meats, pelts and bones the refugees managed to take with them from the ruins of their camps. They were made into a spontaneous underclass that, while often destitute and lost in their new situation, were very capable in their own right.

An unexpected consequence of the tribesmen scattered communities, woven together by the circumstance of their wandering, was the music that came from it. The instruments, the rhythms, they rose in the different nomad neighborhoods with uncanny similarities. Love songs, sad songs and the rest of the usual menagerie were there, but there were the songs about the cities where these villages sprung as well. The underlying loss was woven into the music, but the lyrics described their new surroundings, customs and peculiarities with a sharp eye. Once this music had established itself as a genre in its own right, transmitted by those that didn’t give up on their nomadic drifting, the songs began to establish a sort of cipher, carrying messages in their rhythms and rhymes; the artist’s origins, their place in the old hierarchy, and even the political mood and reception of the migrant tribes were insinuated into those songs. As time went on, listening to this music became almost a ritual. It was traveling with the mind. Smoke rooms hazed by the pipes and incense, invading the cargo hold of a flightless carcass, would be filled with the often gentle music, while the important men of these makeshift communities and travelers listened, trying to capture the broad strokes of the world they had suddenly been forced to explore. That music became known as the Diaspora, the scattered nation. It was both a spiritual link to a past that was fading and an encrypted message of their present.

From → Fiction

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